FASHION

Glorious Dias

GATHER

Words by Katrina Swee | Photography by Carmen Del Prado

His Lola was a dressmaker and seamstress while his mother has continued to discover vintage gems over the years—it seems that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 

 

I remember my last visit to Glorious Dias. Neighbor of Pineapple Lab, the shop was sorted with racks of button-downs, embroidered piña hanging on the window sill, woven items, and shelves filled with books and assorted doodads. It was curated to be the treasure trove for Manila’s thrift lovers. Known for proudly selling vintage Filipiniana, Glorious Dias sadly said goodbye to its brick-and-mortar store last year.

 

As I sit here today with Glorious Dias’ owner, Jodinand Aguillon, I see the “gloriousness” inside his own home—a reworked pinafore sits on a mannequin, beautiful textiles hanging in the background with plants, pots, and rattan everywhere. Tropical, kitschy, and leaving me with the repeating question, “Where did you get this from?”, I see Jodinand’s love for everything Filipino and how he embodies what it really means to be one.


 

You previously owned a thrift store before moving back to Manila. Where did your passion for thrifting come from?

 

I think it’s always been with me. I grew up around it. My mother always loved second-hand shopping. She loved going to garage sales. One, for economics—it was cheap, frugal, and efficient. Two, you just never know what you’re going to find. 

 

I remember she never collected things but this one time, she stumbled upon a huge collection of miniature elephant figurines at a garage sale. She suddenly bought them all and started collecting elephants out of nowhere because that was her thing now. It’s the thrill of the find, but as a kid, it was always a bonding moment or touchpoint for me to spend time with my parents. 

 

My mother had so many closets full of clothes, and one of her weird pet peeves or biggest fears in life was walking into a party and seeing some other woman wearing the same outfit as her. She loved the idea of mix and matching store-bought things, thrifted things, and things she got my aunt to make for her. 

 

I think from that point onwards, it’s been a part of how I acquire things and look at objects, clothes, and style—not necessarily personal style, but how others style themselves.

Have you always been mindful as a consumer?

 

It was always a part of how I shopped. I shopped at big box retail, brand names as well. Fast fashion—totally guilty. But it’s always been a mix and match. I always valued the things that last longer and items that have a story. I find these through vintage shopping, clothing swaps, and garage sales. It’s part of how I consume and definitely has more meaning if I do approach it mindfully.

 

I know you dabble in other things. You’re the executive director of Pineapple Lab and the creative director of Fringe Manila. How did you end up opening Glorious Dias after you moved back? I read somewhere that you said you’d never do it again.

 

Totally, 100%. That still sings a love song to me. I moved back here to explore the creative arts landscape of Manila. It’s something I was never exposed to or grew up around, especially in the aspect of the performing arts. I had a vintage store for six years in Toronto. Before that, I worked in corporate retail, and my first job was at a vintage/tattoo studio. It’s always been there.

 

But with the big jump back to the Philippines, I wanted this poetic clean cut from vintage and to fully throw myself into the creative community. I loved it. When I got here, the first places I wanted to explore had nothing to do with my career goals but had everything to do with things I like. I guess it followed me. I say, once you get bitten by the vintage bug, it stays with you forever. It becomes a part of you.

 

Opening a vintage store was never the goal. It was just to offload some costumes I procured over time from various styling gigs and collecting things for costumes for other projects. It eventually got to the point where I had bins in the apartment and thought, “Let’s do a one-week pop-up” because we had this other space as part of Pineapple Lab that we weren’t maximizing. We tried it out for a week and then a week became two years. It’s the pop-up shop that never popped down until ECQ.

 

Then, we pivoted online. I now don’t have plans for it. I just understand that it will grow with me at any capacity—big or small, online and in real life.

Is Glorious Dias currently your main gig right now?

 

It’s my main thing right now but was five percent of my time pre-quarantine. I loved it. It was definitely a hobby and another entry point for people to want to come to Pineapple Lab or be introduced to the world of Fringe Manila. 

 

Creating this whole retail experiment through Pineapple Lab’s other space was another way for people to see the kind of work we do. Maybe that entry point happened to be fashion, hair, vintage, or ukay which helped bring in our audience and to whom we were able to connect or serve as community members. 

 

I know that you love finding beautiful, vintage Filipiniana pieces. Knowing now that Glorious Dias started as a pop-up for offloading costumes, how did it translate to reworked traditional wear?

 

So, when we started, we actually had six reworked pieces—maxi skirts made from tablecloths and these linen barong kits that weren’t assembled which we turned into structured kimonas. Every now and then, we would experiment. One of our collaborators happens to be our neighbor in Poblacion, Madam Wilma. She would always do little repairs and little dream projects we had. It wasn’t our thing or a part of what we did. The reworked vintage came out of necessity because not being able to source or procure new items as is, I had to start looking at the things I had. It was about looking at the good parts of an item and finding a new way to highlight its gloriousness. It went from there. 

 

I didn’t really grow up around much Filipino culture. I was born in the Philippines and moved to Canada when I was four. We were the only Filipino family in that town in Alberta. Assimilating and learning English was the first step. It wasn’t really part of my parents’ hammering into my head how important it was to be Filipino in Canada and they never made me feel ashamed about it. 

 

When I was around eight to ten years old, my aunt made me choose an extra-curricular activity and it was between soccer or Filipino folk dance. There was a group in Edmonton that specialized in children’s Filipino folk dance and I was like, “I love soccer but I’ll try folk dance.” That was my entry point into Filipino Canadian culture. It was the first time I saw Filipino costumes expressed in a diasporic way, using different textiles, perhaps not so traditional but re-interpreted and interpreted based on the materials that were available to the artists there. From that point on, folk dance has always been my passion as well—expressing Filipino tradition, not only through traditional folk dance but through a contemporary lens. 

The costumes and inspiration were always pulled from the past. I always look at these photos and the fashion as fashion-forward. I can’t even say timeless because they’re obviously very dated from hairstyle to photography, but you can measure the intelligence of one’s culture by the textiles and the intricacy of how they’re made. It’s our motherboard of computers...if you look at the way the textiles are woven. It’s fascinating. I look at these textiles as technology and as things we can and should carry into the future. 

 

I don’t really sell the pieces that are too precious. They live in an archive which is basically this imaginary, pretend fashion medium that exists in my head. They’re too precious to sell, hard to put a price on them, but really for sharing with others. To be able to share them now on Instagram has allowed more people to enjoy them as opposed to tucking them away for myself. It’s kind of like a library wherein if you sell a book, that one person has access to all that knowledge but if you keep that book in a library and open it to the public, so many people have more access to that, the images, and knowledge.

I don’t know if this is just my personal experience or a universal Filipino mindset but when I started thrifting, my mum would always freak out, saying I had no idea who last owned or wore those clothes. Saying that, it seems like thrifting is a taboo subject. How did you think Filipinos felt about thrifting before and around the time you launched Glorious Dias? Has that situation now changed?

 

Ah, the taboo surrounding old clothes—it’s that phrase, “Baka may kasama yan!” I love it! It was something I had never experienced before. The idea’s been looming. With clothing, I always believed that however you accept or procure something with the same intentions as to how it’s going to manifest itself, in the closet or on the person who gets it next. I think there is that taboo and find it fascinating. I don’t laugh at it and think it’s definitely valid. On a more common level, a lot of vintage and ukay are perceived as baduy, cheap, smelly, unsanitary, when in fact, it’s fine. You wash [a piece] and just give it some love. It’s well made and is going to last way longer than the shirt you bought two months ago folded in your drawer. Those override any sort of fear or bad juju that some people might attach to buying old clothes.

 

Have I seen any changes? It’s great to see so many more accounts online appreciating ukay and learning to differentiate between vintage, secondhand, and what’s antique. It’s an amazing conversation to have with others. At the end of the day, no matter how you’re approaching it or how you’re shopping, one less garment taking up space in the landfill is better than nothing. 

I remember the first time I went to your store and all items were washed and saged. It was definitely a positive and different experience for me, especially here in Manila. Just out of curiosity, where did you frequently thrift?

 

Makati Cinema Square and Cubao X for the knick-knacks. There were shops there where things were piled high to the ceiling. It was just, wow. It felt like a lot of the vintage stores I’m used to out west. 

 

The thing is that we celebrate items made in the States and Europe. I still love those labels, but to find vintage that’s Filipino is something else. I remember when I was in Toronto, I had barongs hung so high on the walls because every now and then, I would find something made from the Philippines in Toronto. I thought, “Oh man, if I could have a vintage store filled with made in the Philippines vintage, game over.” I haven’t gotten there yet. I’m obviously now in the Philippines and have closer access to that and the things that hit closer to home in the heart and soul sense, but also make sense as far as the weather—the textiles, prints, vibrance, and color. All say that they belong and are made for the Philippines. 

 

You previously said there are now more online accounts where people would be able to thrift. Generally, I feel like we’re moving forward in being more comfortable buying second-hand and are more mindful, especially in this climate. What are your thoughts in terms of fashion retail and sustainability?

 

Sustainability within any business at this point shouldn’t have just one department dedicated to it. It needs to be holistic and throughout every step of the way—from how you source, how you treat your employees, how you package, and customer aftercare. I’ll admit, I wouldn’t necessarily say that we’re an eco brand because it’s not the first thing for me. The first thing is beautiful Filipino things, haha. It’s very black and white. 

 

Whereas with all the others—where my mind’s at, how I live, who my consumer base is, and my life experience in retail—sustainability is part of it. Automatically. It can’t be an afterthought. It can’t be something you build in later. Of course, if you don’t have sustainability in mind at the start, you can integrate it step by step. However, I’m always wary of brands that lead with that.

 

Are there any Filipino thrift stores or labels you support or love in general?

 

So many! I love @shairaluna.wardrobe. It’s very well done and I don’t know how she does it. It’s color-blocked and almost each one has a story connected to a body of her work. Re Clothing (@shop.re.clothing) is another one. She takes ukay finds and hand embroiders lovely details on them. They’re also part of Hub Make Lab, which is where our pop-up is, in Escolta. There are a lot. 

 

It’s funny that I not only see the accounts that are selling on Instagram but I know more about the customers who are buying, wearing, and showing items from different shops. I love that! We’ve created this little microcosm of a bubble. It is in fact a community that functions on commerce but not necessarily heavily guided by capitalism. 

 

You spoke about your shift online, your current pop-up in Escolta. I saw that you’re launching a collaboration with SEFRA. What else is in store for Glorious Dias?

 

Who knows? I certainly don’t. That’s an answer I tell myself. Of course, I have little plans and have dreams which are really important at this time. There are things that still excite me. We’ve tried creating some of our styles using new textiles but they didn’t feel the same as when we were making things that were one-of-a-kind pieces. 

 

I’m still excited to explore vintage Philippine textiles and how they can be incorporated into our everyday life and everyday wear. I love how FIlipiniana’s for special occasions, but it’s so nice and special that it should be worn more often. It doesn’t even need to be worn. It could be hanging on a wall instead of in your closet. 

The biggest plan right now is to build a damn website! Instagram’s been great. It’s been very surprising in terms of growth, connection, and instant feedback. These have been wonderful. We were dormant for a while because I didn’t know what to do and I’m not an online shopper. I always understood that if you’re going to be good at something, you need to be good at the other side of it. I opened a Carousell account and went on Facebook Marketplace and I started finding things to buy to understand how [online shopping] works on the consumer end and what customer care looks like on a digital platform. We started slowly updating our Instagram after that and grew from there. I also know that every social media platform has an expiration date so we do need to create our own little island where people know to come here for this and to also be able to ship internationally. Those are things that I’m trying to wrap my head around right now as far as the future.